Laura Lee Gulledge – Will & Whit
67. Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge (2013)
Length: 192 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Started/Finished: 25 August 2013
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I was really pleasantly surprised by Gulledge’s Page by Paige so I wanted to read more of her work.
Will makes lamps out of
junk, but a storm forces her
to face the darkness.
Summary: Wilhelmina Huckstep (Will for short) lives with her aunt and helps her run an antiques store, has a talent for making lamps out of odd things, and is terribly afraid of the dark… which might seem kind of juvenile for a 17-year-old girl, but Will’s got some darker shadows waiting for her there. She’s got good friends, and manages all right, but then Hurricane Whitney blows through town, knocking out power and leaving Will in the dark, her lamps useless. She’s determined to find a way through it, but as the power outage lasts, she begins to realize that she might have to finally confront her shadows.
Review: I like Laura Lee Gulledge’s work a lot. I love graphic novels, but often times I have to remind myself to pay attention to the artwork as well as the words; I’m more instinctively drawn to the textual part of the story rather than the visuals. But in Gulledge’s books, that’s not a problem. Part of it is that she’s got a great balance between words and art, and that the art is bold and vibrant and eye-catching, even in black and white. But I think that a lot of it has to do with the fact that Gulledge uses her art to tell the story… and particularly the emotional meat of her story, is really carried in her drawings. In Page by Paige, it was Paige’s sketchbook that let us see inside her head; in this case, it’s Will’s shadows that provide all of the parts of the story that can’t be carried by dialog. There’s a lot of subtler touches as well; I had already finished the book when I realized that all of the pages that take place during the power outage have black spaces between and around the panels, vs. white borders before and after. (There are also background touches which make it clear that Gulledge is a fan of Joss Whedon and of Dr. Who. Not that these matter to the emotional heft of the story, but still: yay!) I liked Page by Paige a little better than Will & Whit – they’re both really enjoyable, but the story in this one somehow felt more straightforward and a little less ooomphy (maybe because Will’s “dark secret” is guessable pretty far in advance of when it’s revealed). But on the other hand, the scene that explains what’s going on in the cover image did grab me unshakably by the heartstrings. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Will & Whit should appeal to fans of YA graphic novels, graphic novel memoirs, or coming of age stories. It’s also definitely worth checking out if you’re interested in the graphic novel as a genre, in the sense of telling stories via art as well as text.
Other Reviews: Waking Brain Cells
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First Line: Some people are factory-fresh. But me? I’m more of a passed-down sort of girl.
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